Once you have built a solid, working and profitable online shop you should treat yourself to a nice bottle of champagne. You deserve it, what you have accomplished is notable, 90% of online shops never make it. (If you are still only climbing that mountain why not take a look at our infographics on how […]
Once you have built a solid, working and profitable online shop you should treat yourself to a nice bottle of champagne. You deserve it, what you have accomplished is notable, 90% of online shops never make it.
However, the morning after the champagne make sure you are in condition to get back on the wheel to keep on improving, growing and innovating, because in online business, if you are standing still you are going backwards.
In addition to improving your service, product offers and margins there is always the never-ending task of reaching more and more customers.
The good news should be that if it works in your home country, why shouldn’t it elsewhere? And with eCommerce, there really are no limits to your potential international market…
In practice, however, there are quite a few borders to cross.
These are not geographical borders, but operational and business-related ones that can be just as, if not more, limiting.
Like always, once you gain experience and insight, endless new opportunities and better strategies pop up everywhere, but here is a great list of basics to begin with:
The 8 steps to starting your endeavour to conquer the world with your online shop:
STEP 1: Do some research.
Before you dive into website translation and PPC ads in foreign languages – get to know your target market.
Your first goal is to find out if spending your money on establishing a presence in a particular country is going to be a worthwhile investment.
For example, if you are selling bottled water in Spain with record profits year after year, expanding to Germany might seem like a great investment. Double the population, triple the profit, right? Except for the little detail that Germans love their water sparkling and as a Spanish producer, 90% or more of your stock is likely natural still water. A little bit of CO2 makes a big product market misfit.
It is important to find out how big is the target market for your niche, how are people paying for their shopping, how much are they spending online, how do they want their orders delivered, are they shopping on mobile phones or desktops, how old are they….etc. etc.
But it is as important to find out if there is a market for your product at all and if so, who are your competitors and how big are they and how can you take them on. So be ready to do some ‘soft’ research by Googling in a foreign language, asking for advice from more informed friends and even going on Quora to get an answer from a more informed public.
Some markets are worth more investment than others.
This is why you should find out all you can about your target markets and handpick the ones to put in the most effort.
STEP 2: Expand your reach.
Once you have pinned down the markets that deserve the most of your resources, it is time to get down with the dirty work.
To be global, funny enough, really means to be local everywhere.
And being local means speaking the language, knowing the local customs and habits and dealing in the local currency. This is what translates into a trustworthy, safe and fast service and, most importantly, sales.
Start by translating your shop.
Translating a whole shop can be a time-consuming and tricky task. Not to mention if you are going to tackle more than one language at a time.
But don’t worry, there is a great little app called Lokalise that is designed to make it easily manageable and keep your whole team, from developers to translators, aligned to the set goals.
But there are also dedicated translation services like TextMaster which are designed to help you precisely with the task at hand – making your site multilingual and true to local lingo.
Also, remember that Google Translator and other bots are yet to be proficient enough to tackle tasks as essential as writing a well converting and location-specific copy for your online shop. So steer well away!
Next step – make your shop personal.
Personalizing the shopping experience of your online shop should be essential not only on your new markets but also on your home one.
The increase in conversions and order value and lower cart abandonment are practically a given when getting your personalisation efforts right. Definitely have a look at solutions like Omniconvert and FreshRelevance to make sure you are making your customers journey as relevant as possible.
Get ready to receive payments from anywhere.
People like to pay in their own currency. This means that in addition to translating the language of your online shop you will need to translate also the prices. And it means you will need to accept payments in those currencies.
While services like PayPal and Stripe will allow you to receive payments in any currency they will charge a conversion fee that might be less than favourable. It also might be that shoppers in your target market prefer other kinds of payment methods that require the existence of a local bank account.
Luckily, there is a way to get UK, US, EU and Australian bank account details all in one go, meaning you cover a major part of the world in an instant and save uncounted hours in dealing with bank bureaucracy.
By using Transferwise. They even let you convert between 40 major currencies using the actual conversion rate. A definite lifesaver to any business going after the global market.
STEP 3: Deliver to the world.
Once you have gotten your international visitors to successfully convert and pay, you face yet another obstacle. Probably the biggest one of them all.
How do you efficiently and swiftly deliver their orders?
Keep in mind that you have invested a lot of time and money into capturing these international buyers. Is it worth letting them anxiously wait for days for the delivery, wondering if someone has taken their money and run off to the Carribean?
Even if they eventually receive their order without problems, the whole experience will have a bittersweet taste to it.
There is a much better way to do it by always keeping your customer informed about the location of their package, allowing them to track it through a page inside your online shop (instead of flimsy and horrible courier tracking pages) and actually delivering it within 48h to their doorstep anywhere in the world!
With Outvio you can do all of that and more.
And if your delivery process can finally be part of your quest to secure more and more future sales, why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?
STEP 4: Build a team with local talent where you need it
Hiring a local can be a make or break decision in critical markets.
Sometimes things get lost in translation and the only way to recover them is to not translate at all but to adopt new approaches instead.
While freelancers and online services can get you a long way, there might come a point where you need the right person with the right local knowledge to join your team.
Whether you want them to relocate to your head office or are happy with some remote help, Jobbatical is a perfect place to start looking for tech-savvy locals to join your new international team.
STEP 5: Localize your SEO
SEO has likely been part of your journey since the beginning of your eCommerce endeavour. But localizing your shop now also means multiplying your SEO efforts by the same amount.
It is easy to lose tone and meaning in translation and it is also easy to lose your keywords. Sometimes small semantics have a big impact, so make sure to keep your SEO game up.
This increased SEO load might mean you need to increase your team.
Or maybe it is simply time to find some external experts that can give a hand in this critical phase of going global.
STEP 6: Globalize (localize) your marketing
There is always the omnipresent Google Ads and other PPC channels that you can scale to fit your new international needs.
However, to be truly local you need to get your shop on the map with the local affiliates, influencers and celebrities. Nothing inspires trust and curiosity more than a recommendation from a VIP that speaks your language.
But how to find the right personalities on an unfamiliar landscape?
Some smart searches on Google, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook might already point you in the right direction.
But since this is 2018, there are services that will help you find exactly the right people, in the right market, in the right niche and at the right price. NinjaOutreach, TRIBE and IMA are just a few of the growing number of influencer marketing agencies that will get your product the local celebrity attention it needs!
STEP 7: Test, optimize, repeat
As your customer base grows you have increasingly more opportunities to gather data to help optimize your conversions.
With growing traffic, you can start meaningfully validating your design, UI, CTAs, content and anything from colour schemes to the tone of your online shop. On a big scale, small changes make HUGE impacts (on anything from order values to repeat purchase rates) while different approaches work in different markets.
For example, if you are already receiving 1,000 orders per month and just a minor change in the position of your “Add to cart” button increases your sales by 1%, it means you will be getting extra 10 orders per month just because of that. Seems insignificant? Not if your average order value is, let say, 60EUR, meaning this small increase will bring you 7,000EUR more revenue per year.
Now imagine if instead of 1,000 orders a month you have 10,000. You get the idea…
You need to find out what gets the best results and where. And do more of that.
You can start completely free with Google Optimize and start A/B, multivariant, redirect and even personalisation testing with no extra investment needed.
STEP 8: Go offline!
And as a final tip – get your brand noticed offline!
PPC, SEO and Social Media can go a long way in introducing your brand to people who fit your target profile, but there are potential customers out there who never see your online ads, reach your content or stumble upon your SM.
This is why, when you identify a key market to seriously go after, don’t forget the traditional media and community.
Get mentioned on talk shows and take out advertisements on both radio and TV – these channels might be old, but they are definitely not dead.
Same goes for print media! If you are selling expensive stilettos, make sure to advertise in the local Cosmopolitan.
If there is a cause your brand can get behind – be vocal about it and sponsor local events that bring attention to it.
The possibilities are endless. And omnipresence never hurts.
Not to mention that these days, the public sentiment already is aware that anyone can advertise online, meaning offline advertising is thus becoming something more ‘exclusive’ altogether – more expensive and usually only used by big brands. This means the trust factor that comes from identifying your brand in an offline ad is times higher than with online ads.
So there you have it, our 8 tips to conquer the world with your online shop. Just a tip of the iceberg, but a great place to start!
In case you have taken a jump into the deep end and missed our previous two articles in the series, definitely check out our 5 tips to grow your online shop and 8 steps to launch a successful online shop.
As we always say – dream big, or don’t dream at all!